For the record, the Bannerís policy as stated on this page is that we will allow one response to an opinion piece and a subsequent rebuttal. That three-pronged policy has been satisfied with Mr. Sopranoís letter of Wednesday therefore the rebuttal process Ė and this debate Ė has ended for now.

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A few notes here, there and elsewhereÖ

You may recall that a few months ago I had utilized some granny wisdom to try keeping Patches, my calico kitty, off the dining table and kitchen counters. That involved covering all visible surfaces with tin foil.

So my kitchen was basically tin-plated for about a month, maybe five weeks. They say that tinfoil to a catís feet is like when we Ė brace yourself, people Ė bite on a piece of it in our baked potato.

Well, I canít tell you how glad I am to report that it appears to have worked.

I removed the aluminum foil and have noticed no sign of Patches exploring the places I would rather she didnít! Now, I did hear a tell-tale kerplunk one morning which usually means she has jumped down from somewhere, but I saw no evidence of it being the table or counter and have not heard it again since. So keep your fingers crossed, I think I got it!

Now I have to work on the dough-kneading thing. Patches believes my belly Ė which has inflated in size since I stopped smoking two years ago Ė is a freshly prepared mound of dough and must be kneaded. The problem with this, of course, are those needle-sharp claws of hers. Weíre working on it. I may need to tin-foil my belly.

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Youíll also be pleased to know I have largely defeated the invading population of rodents Ė the four-legged kind, not the two Ė that have infiltrated my domain.

During two steady weeks of intensive rat-trap setting, maintenance and replacement if I didnít get a strike within two days, I managed to catch and dispose of about a dozen vermin.

Thereís still a few left to catch. I hear them sometimes, in the ceiling and walls, but itís not a Kentucky Derby noise anymore. I got Ďem on the run. Hereís a tip, those of you who live in old houses and are battling rodents on your own: Sunflower seeds, shelled. The little creeps canít resist it. Peanut butter canít hold a candle to sunflower seeds, mark my word!

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I donít know whether to curse the rain or the sun.

I mean, the rain is getting old, to be sure, but it does keep the temperature down, though itís muggy.

The town of Troy, in northwest Montana, hit 104 degrees Thursday!

Now, you can spit on Canada from Troy, thatís how close it is. They broke a record high set in, get this, 1892.

So how do you figure? The Northwest is suffering from decreased snowpack in the winters, meaning less runoff coming down in the spring and summer, meaning lower river levels and hotter water temps.

But in 1892, there wasnít any global warming to speak of, at least not the manmade variety.

I think the earth goes through cyclical warmings and coolings, but I also think weíre doing some things we shouldnít be. In the end, Iím not convinced global warming is man-caused, but then, is it worth taking a chance?

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Speaking of expansive bellies, Iíve been trying to do something about mine by getting more active and eating better, but did you know that vegetables have fat?

I didnít know that until someone pointed out to me that a good-sized avocado could have up to 30 grams of fat in it.

Thankfully, I donít eat the nasty things, nor do I eat guacamole, but whatís up with that? Vegetables have fat?

I was taught that thereís two kingdoms in the scientific world, plant and animal and the only thing suspiciously dichotomous of both are mushrooms. See, I could believe in a mushroom having fat, because mushrooms are kinda not-plant, not-meat (though a steak-sized grilled portabella is to die for!) and scientists really are still scratching their heads over them. I really like mushrooms, though I often worry about eating something that goes by the name fungi and reproduces with something called spores. Eww.

Regardless, if plants have fat, do animals have chlorophyll and we just donít know it yet? I donít get it. I was raised right. My mommy taught me under no uncertain terms, I have to eat my meat and my vegetables. Itís a perfect match. A symbiotic relationship. One has something the other does not and vice versa. Like peanut better and chocolate. Like eggs and bacon. Like ham and cheese. Like Bogie and Bacall. You get the idea.

Now itís like a bad science-fiction movie. The alien life form comes down and attacks Anytown, U.S.A. in black-and-white and the good scientist gets a piece of him off the barbed wire fence he smashed through. He finds under the microscope, lo! The alien is part animal, part vegetable!

"You telling me this thingís a big chefís salad, doc?" the friendly sheriff asks.

"Put some ranch dressing on him and heís good as gone," the scientists advises.

Croutons, doc. Donít forget the croutons!

Personally, I still think a big serving of spinach dip from Bocatís is the perfect food source: You got your vegetable, dairy and mushrooms in there, all served in a bread bowl. Match it up with a cold beer, and sacre bleu! It just donít get much better than that, friends and neighbors.

Just try not to think about the spores.